Category Archives: The Diaspora

Some Constructive Suggestions Towards Overcoming the Chronic Pastoral Crisis in Both Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in the British Isles and Ireland

Introduction: The Russian Orthodox Presence in the British Isles and Ireland

There has been a Russian Orthodox presence in England for 300 years. And yet, incredibly, both dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in our countries (that of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and that of the Church based inside Russia (the Diocese of Sourozh)) have faced battles to get even the name of their diocese right! Although it is thirty years since the late Fr Mark (Meyrick) of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) painted his Icon of All the Saints Who Have Shone Forth in the British Isles and Ireland with the correct title, we recently had a battle at the Theological Commission of the Inter-Orthodox Committee of Bishops even to establish this title, since most of the foreign bishops had no concept that there was a difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles and whether any of these names included Ireland!

The Present Crisis

Both Russian Orthodox dioceses here have been in crisis in recent decades, facing three problems.

The first problem faced by the small Diocese of Sourozh, directly under Moscow, has been a mixture of modernism, liturgical renovationism and a personality cult characteristic of small organizations, all problems inherited from the Paris School of modernist Orthodoxy. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against what was in reality Protestantization resulted in the 2006 Sourozh schism, when the Diocese lost over half its mainly convert clergy and 300 people, also mainly converts. Though this is all in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by that Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its defective ecclesiology in the past. This entailed dependence on Church of England for borrowing properties and so a lack of independence and freedom to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. All that the Diocese possesses is a smallish Cathedral in west London and tiny chapels in Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham. The third problem is its chronic lack of (overworked) clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

The first problem faced by the even smaller ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, has been a narrow nationalism mixed on the fringes with old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism, which in the past created a dead end of insularity. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against such Sectarianism, mixed with personality conflicts characteristic of small organizations, resulted in the 2007 ROCOR schism, when the Diocese lost its only monastery and convent. Though this is all exactly ten years in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by the Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its over-strict narrowness and rejection of any form of mission (there was even a missionary tax!) in the past. This entailed total exhaustion and demoralization of the clergy and so a lack of any encouragement to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. With one exception, the Diocese largely only exists in London (and missions dependent on London) and in East Anglia. All that the Diocese possesses is a very small Cathedral in a sidestreet in west London, the largest Russian Orthodox church in the British Isles and Ireland in Colchester (not London) and tiny chapels in a house in Essex, in a private garden in a Suffolk village, in Norwich in Norfolk and near a village in central Ireland, far from where Orthodox live. The third problem is its chronic lack of overworked clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

A Future Solution?

As can be seen, the common crisis is today purely pastoral in nature. Given that two of the three problems of both dioceses, lack of church buildings and lack of clergy, who are elderly, overworked and exhausted, are identical, there should be some common solution. One shrewd commentator has said that the Diocese that will dominate will be the one that sets up proper, large churches in London to provide proper pastoral care for the tens of thousands of faithful there. Notably, churches are required in the south of London, around, Croydon, in the east, around Stratford and in the north, around St Albans. The scandal is that there is only one permanent Russian-speaking priest to cover the country to the east and south of London – one third of the whole country!

However, we should also take into account the wider Russian Orthodox world in continental Western Europe and beyond. The Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) dominates the Russian Orthodox presence in the English-speaking world, in North America and Australasia. However, the Russian Orthodox Church based inside Russia, dominates elsewhere, notably in South America and above all in Western Europe. Here, where 25 years ago ROCOR was dominant and representatives of the Church inside Russia hardly existed, today ROCOR hardly exists. Just the Diocese of the Church inside Russia in Italy is larger than all of ROCOR in Western Europe. This has only eight parishes outside its parishes in western Germany and the few in Switzerland. Surely it is the Russian Orthodox presence in continental Western Europe will one day come under representatives of the Church inside Russia, with its new Cathedral and seminary in Paris and active young bishops, large flocks and newly-built churches in Rome, Madrid and many other places?

On the other hand, perhaps at this point we should consider what can be called ‘the Brexit Factor’. With the United Kingdom, at least, leaving the European Union, it is inevitably returning to closer relations with the rest of the English-speaking world, former colonies, especially in North America and Australasia. Surely, ecclesiastically, this means the Russian Orthodox presence in the British Isles and Ireland one day coming under ROCOR? Rather than the canonically absurd arrangement of two dioceses of the same Local Church on the same territory, there should surely be some rearrangement, at least in the British Isles and Ireland. It may seem premature to talk of this to some, but, after all, the two parts of the Russian Church have been united for ten years now, since 2007. The only delay on such matters can be because of pastoral considerations, in the interests of economy, that the people may not be upset.

Conclusion: Divine not Human

Of course, none of this can take place without the right leader, that is, without the right bishop, one acceptable to both sides, and this must be a bishop who speaks English and understands English people. A pastor. It is no wish of ours to hurt anyone’s feelings with the above considerations. The above is all written in the spirit of throwing a stone into a pond and seeing what ripples there may be. In other words, surely it is time at least to begin discussing such possibilities as we have outlined above in the spirit of pastoral love and unity. Let us remember: All crises are man-made and all solutions are God-made. Let us all strive to discern and do God’s Will.

Which Jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church Should I Join?

Although fourteen Local Orthodox Churches make up the whole Orthodox Church of 216 million, only seven of them are represented by their jurisdictions outside the Local Orthodox Church homelands in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. However, since the Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia generally care only for their own nationals, only three of these jurisdictions are open to Non-Orthodox. These three depend on the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch and Moscow.

However, in Western Europe and North America there at present exist two groups in the Russian Church – that directly under Moscow and that under the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and so indirectly under Moscow. In North America, there is actually a third group, known as the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), originally largely Carpatho-Russian but now basically English-language, which was founded by Moscow. Anyone wishing to join the Orthodox Church may therefore have a choice to make.

Generally speaking, in Western countries, where Orthodox Christians are only a small minority and Orthodox churches are few and far between, this choice will be decided geographically. If you only have one Orthodox church geographically near you, then that is the church to join. However, if you live in or near the capital of a Western country or in or near a large city or town, there may well be a choice to make between the various jurisdictions. What needs to be known in order to choose?

1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople

This jurisdiction is dominated by Greek nationalism (the Greek flag) and generally sends away any Non-Greeks who knock at its door. It should also be known that this Patriarchate is both heavily involved with the Vatican and is run by the US political elite. For it, Washington is the ‘Second Rome’ and therefore the official ethos is modernistic, ecumenistic and generally liberal Protestant, according to the anti-Russian, Anglo-Saxon Establishment model. This is true even of Non-Greek parts of it, even though they try and imitate a few selected Russian customs. Having said this, there are exceptions, with some excellent pastors and pious people, so that any generalizations can be disproved by exceptions to the rule. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that is not nationalistic and so is interested in missions to the Non-Greek world and has spiritual depth and content.

2. The Patriarchate of Antioch

Part of this jurisdiction is dominated by Arab nationalism, but the other part, mainly in Western countries, is dominated by a spirit of mission with a conservative-evangelical Protestant style, with a certain, rather peculiar and amateurish imitation of a few selected Russian customs. The ethos of this part, largely run by ex-Evangelicals, is to proselytize, that is, its ethos is to recruit as many like-minded converts as possible to itself. Some criticize it for this because as a result it cuts corners, fails to observe the canons and has a Protestant feel to it that attracts few cradle Orthodox (and it is not even very interested in this), certainly none who are anchored in the Tradition. Having said this, no-one would criticize this part of Antioch for its lack of zeal, only for its lack of depth and of knowledge of the Tradition. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

3. The Patriarchate of Moscow

A criticism of this jurisdiction is that its Patriarch and hierarchy are corrupt. Those who make such assertions never have any proof of them and are engaged in Western-sponsored, anti-Russian politics. However, even if, for the sake of argument, we agree that they were true, we would answer: So what? The Patriarch is not the Head of the Church, for Christ is the Head of the Church and the Patriarch does not run the Church, for the Holy Spirit runs the Church. Such political criticisms show a Papist way of thinking. The parishes of the Patriarchate of Moscow outside the former Soviet Union, mainly in Western Europe and South America, display several tendencies. Some are nationalistic and, Soviet-style, arrogantly imperialistic, some are modernistic, others follow the Tradition and accept Non-Russians. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

4. ROCOR

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) exists mainly in North America, Australasia and Western Europe. As such it has been responsible for much missionary and translation work. It has in its near-100 year history also been subject to many sufferings and persecution, as it has been without the political protection of a powerful State. Thus, the best of ROCOR has been a Church of Confessors and Missionaries, as in its saints like St John of Shanghai. However, other parts of it have been involved in nationalism, excessive strictness to the point of phariseeism and depressing right-wing politics. Today, as part of the Russian Orthodox Church, it has sometimes given the impression of drifting and having lost its identity. This drift has come about whenever its faithfulness to the Tradition has been in doubt. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

On the Non-Inevitability of Modernism

Once upon a time the pseudo-science of Marxism used to proclaim that its claims, like death and taxes, were inevitable. In a similar way the supporters of the theory of evolution used to proclaim that it too was the only ‘truth’ that counted, until real scientists pointed out that it was only a theory among many. Similarly, the EU used to proclaim that its aim of a United States of Europe was also inevitable, ‘like a man riding a bicycle you have to carry on towards it, otherwise you will fall off’. Actually if you are cycling (especially towards a cliff edge), you can easily stop without falling off and turn back, which is exactly what the pragmatists of Brexit have done. Modernists also use the same pseudo-scientific argument of inevitability to justify themselves. In a post-modernist world, their argument is particularly absurd and old-fashioned.

Thus, forty years ago I remember a priest of a modernist Western diocese of the old Patriarchate of Moscow (who later defrocked himself, ran away from his wife and then committed suicide) using exactly the same argument. ‘The Catholics had Vatican II, and we will follow them. It is inevitable. We will get rid of the iconostasis, have women around the altar table, have deaconesses, do away with clerical clothing and be modern like the Protestants and then the Catholics. It is just that we Orthodox are behind the others’. I have been reminded of his words recently, as a member of the Paris Archdiocese has said that since one of their priests in Belgium already accepts homosexual ‘marriage’ and that a priest under Constantinople in Finland actually does such ‘weddings’, ‘the rest of the Church will follow’. Inevitability? As in Crete?

A member of the Constantinople Archdiocese in North America has also recently questioned why New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was recently given the ‘Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Award’. After all, Cuomo is well known for his outspoken advocate of the pro-death (erroneously called pro-choice) movement. On 17 July 2014, Governor Cuomo referred to the defenders of the pre-born child as: “these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life … they have no place in the state of New York.” It seems a strange criticism when two years ago Vice-President Biden, who so lavishly praises the present Patriarch of Constantinople and has also tried hard to further the Church schism in the Ukraine and is another politician who is openly supportive of abortion, also received the same dubious masonic award.

To some it seems that an Orthodox Church accepting everything that liberal Protestantism and liberal Catholicism accept, including homosexual clergy, teenage girls ‘dancing’ around the altar and guitar ‘masses’, is inevitable. After all, they say, ‘we are all subject to the same sociological processes’. Such people, inherently secularist and faithless, have no understanding that this is a typically Catholic/Protestant/Secularist/Western attitude. The Church is precisely the only organism (not organization) that is not subject to ‘sociological processes’ (four Local Churches resisted Crete), but to the processes of the grace of God, processes of the Holy Spirit. If the apostles and martyrs had been subject to ‘sociological processes’, they would have censed the demons (‘gods’) as they were asked to. Instead, they refused – and became saints, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The point is that none of the incredible secularization undergone by Protestantism and Catholicism in the last fifty years (or in the previous centuries either) is inevitable. However, this is true only as long as long as we have the Holy Spirit and not empty-hearted rationalism, that is the ‘fleshly wisdom’ of the spirit of the world – and we know who the prince of the world is. As the apostate scholastic Abelard wrote 900 years ago in the Prologue to his work ‘Sic et Non’: ‘The Fathers had the Holy Spirit, but we do not’. For the interest of the apostate descendants of Abelard, the word ‘Fathers’ means ‘the (Orthodox) Church’, in other words: ‘The (Orthodox) Church has the Holy Spirit, but the others do not’. There is nothing inevitable about modernism, just as there is nothing inevitable about any other form of apostasy.

Christ or Antichrist: There is No Room for Half-Christ

At the present time the politically-minded representatives of a minority of fewer than 20% of members of the Orthodox Church oppose the representatives of the majority of over 80%. This was clearly seen at the 2016 Inter-Orthodox forum in Crete, boycotted by representatives of over 80% of Orthodox and whose pre-written, ‘Halfodox’ documents respected Orthodox bishops refused to sign. The representatives of nearly 20% are from the Greek and EU parts of the Church that are US/Western run and influenced; the representatives of the 80% are the politically free, who are able to keep to the Christian Tradition, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and who believe in the Incarnation of the Church in the Christian Empire.

The 20% who in fact, consciously or unconsciously, betray the Church are composed of two groups.
The first group is formed of petty nationalists, who fall into idolatry by putting their national flag above the multi-national Church. The result of such nationalism is that those outside their nationalism are swiftly assimilated into surrounding groups. For example in the Diaspora, the descendants of such nationalists, speaking above all the local language and assimilating the local culture, are soon absorbed into the Non-Orthodox majority. Thus the churches of such nominal, nationalistic Orthodox rapidly die out, as the foreign nationalism of nationalist forebears has no relevance to descendants born in the Diaspora and they quit the Church.

The second group is formed of modernists, who have no deep love of the Church, no spiritual life or values, and tell you that it is irrelevant whether you belong to the Church or not – as ‘it is, after all, just another culture’. They are therefore inferiority-complex relativists and so ecumenists. Such people used to baptise their children (if they baptised them at all) into what they perceived to be the majority religion of the country where they lived. In other words, such modernists are relativists because they are conformists, who swim with the tide of the Establishment where they live, whatever it may be. Their Diaspora descendants also have little time for the Church and are quickly assimilated into the atheist masses.

As a result of the defection of one emigre group of such modernists, already dissident before the Revolution, which indeed they brought about, to the US-run, largely nationalist and modernist Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church has had to build a new Cathedral in Paris. This is a Cathedral for those Orthodox who are faithful to the integral Christian Tradition, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and who believe in the Incarnation of Christ and so of the Church in the Christian Empire. Only here, for example, is the Orthodox calendar adhered to, only here is the tradition of confession before communion adhered to, only here do women keep to the Christian Tradition of modest dress. In other words, only here are spiritual ties to the integrity of the Church kept.

After consecrating both the Russian Orthodox Cathedrals in London and Paris in the last two months, it is clear that the Russian Orthodox Patriarch is intent on witnessing to the integral Orthodox Christian Tradition before the Western world. This is a clear rejection of the watered down, modernist, relativist and ecumenist Cretan or Westernized version of Orthodoxy, created by the neocon sponsors of Greek Orthodoxy in Washington. This anti-dogmatic Halfodoxy is unable to witness anything to anyone except its inferiority as a merely exotic version of Western secularism.

Today, 100 years after the blood-soaked Revolution, the Church is returning to witness to the spiritually damaged Western world that the Western-developed, globalist atheism that persecuted it for three generations in the Soviet Union, in the greatest persecution seen in history but which is virtually ignored in the guilty West, is dead. Moreover, this clearly implies that if the Western world continues its adoption of that globalist atheism, then it too is dead. As in 2016 Western people after Western people re-assert their national identities, to the fury of their power-grasping, US/EU political and media establishments, the message of uncompromised Orthodox Christianity is at least being heeded.

Christ the Invincible Power

Answers to Questions from Recent Conversations and Correspondence

Q: When did you first become conscious of the Russian Orthodox Church?

A: My introduction to the Orthodox Church was through the local saints of England in my native north Essex, notably St Edmund, but also St Albright (Ethelbert), St Cedd, St Botolph and St Osyth. However, as regards the Russian Orthodox Church as such, my first encounter was almost fifty years ago, just after my 12th birthday, in August 1968. As a result of that revelation, I began teaching myself Russian in October of that year in Colchester because I already knew that the Russian Orthodox Church is my spiritual home. However, I had to wait nearly another seven years until I could take part in Russian Orthodox life, as in those days (it is not much better now) there were so few Russian churches anywhere. I only managed to visit any Russian churches in 1973.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: Having been told by two of its members that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) would not allow me to join it because I was English (I had no idea at that time that my great-grandmother was Russian, I only discovered that distant link much later), I had no alternative but to join the Moscow Patriarchate. They may have been many things in those distant days, but at least they were not racists.

Q: What was your path to the priesthood after that?

A: A very hard one. First of all, since I could not live and work in Russia on account of the Cold War at that time, for my first job I went to live and work in Greece. I thought that was the next best alternative. After a year there and visiting the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, I understood that the Balkan Churches were no solution to the need for a Local Orthodox Church in the West. They were all inward-looking, culturally very narrow and hopelessly nationalistic. Later, contacts with Romanians and Georgians told me the same about them and in the Romanian case there is the huge problem of simony. So, with Russia closed off, in 1979 with the blessing of Metr Antony (Bloom) I went to study at the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, which I had in my ignorance imagined to be a Russian Orthodox seminary.

Q: What was it in fact?

A: It was the remains of a Russian Orthodox seminary mingled with an institute of philosophy and, frankly, of heresy. It openly preached modernism or Renovationism, which is Protestant-based, and is therefore not even remotely interesting to someone coming from a country like England with a Protestant culture, so alien to me. One English priest, rather harshly, called St Serge a Methodist Sunday School. Very harsh, but there was some truth in it.

Q: Why did you not think of going to Jordanville in the USA?

A: For the same reason as before. I was repeatedly told by members of ROCOR that they only took Russians. Remember in those days there was no internet, no advice, you had to make your own way, you went by what local representatives told you, even if it was incorrect.

Q: What happened next?

A: In 1982 I was offered the priesthood by the Moscow Patriarchate on terms which I can only describe as scandalous. I walked out, never to return, and enquired again at the Church Outside Russia. I got the same answer as in 1974, though I noted that this time there were actually a few ex-Anglicans in a separate branch of ROCOR in England. However, these rather eccentric conservative Anglicans seemed to have no interest in the Russian Orthodox Church, but only in being anti-Anglican and they had a huge interest in fanatical Greek Orthodox sects. Never having been Anglican and having lived in Greece, I had no interest in either. This was all the more frustrating since ROCOR had just canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors and naturally I had their icons and venerated them. Nevertheless, in 1983, I decided to emigrate to France and join my wife’s jurisdiction, the Paris Jurisdiction.

Q: Wasn’t that foolhardy? I mean you already knew about the problem of modernism there?

A: What you have to understand is that in Paris in 1981 they had elected a new Archbishop. Under the very elderly and saintly old one, renovationists had come to the fore, taking advantage of his old age, but the new Archbishop promised us personally that he would sweep them away and return his jurisdiction to Orthodoxy and canonical Russian practice. So this was a time of great promise and even excitement. Patriarch Dimitrios of Constantinople even said at the time that the Paris Jurisdiction would be returned to the Russian Church as soon as it was free. So, with hope in a promising future, in January 1985 I was ordained deacon there.

Q: What happened next?

A: in May 1985 I was offered the priesthood providing that I would become a freemason. I refused, scandalized. Then we became witnesses to the complete takeover of the jurisdiction by renovationists. The new Archbishop ordained them one by one, completely breaking his promise – not because he was a liar, but because he was weak. It was the same problem as Metr Evlogy, the first Paris Jurisdiction ruling bishop; he had never wanted to leave the Russian Church, but he was a weak man surrounded by powerful laymen, mainly freemasons and those who had betrayed the Tsar and organized the February Revolution. It was the end of the possibility that that jurisdiction would ever return to the freed, restored and reunited Russian Church. But I only understood that the meaning of that bitter disappointment afterwards.

Q: Why did you not leave such a masonic group?

A: Not all by far were freemasons and I felt that I had to labour on until God’s will for me should be revealed.

Q: When was that?

A: Without doubt it was in summer 1988 when the Paris Jurisdiction celebrated the millennium of the Baptism of Rus. Instead of inviting the Russian bishops in Western Europe to the Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris and returning to the Russian Church in unity, they railed against the Russian Church and invited the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Paris. I was not only scandalized but spiritually distraught. I was an eyewitness to treason and apostasy. It was the last straw. They preferred heresy to Orthodoxy.

Soon after, I met Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR, who told me that he would be happy to receive me and that I had no need whatsoever to labour on in such anti-canonical conditions. I jumped at the opportunity. 17 people left with me, including a priest. So we all joined the Church Outside Russia in January 1989. That was a transforming moment because previously I had only known the Church Outside Russia in England. On the other hand, Vladyka Antony, heir to Vladyka John of Shanghai, though traditional, was not racist or fanatical, but missionary-minded. He lived in a different world from the fanatics in England and we freely concelebrated with other Orthodox.

I remember him telling me about the extremists who were trying to take control of ROCOR in New York. He said: ‘But there’s nowhere else to go’. I have not the slightest doubt that he would have returned to Russia, if he had had the chance. I also remember conversations with him about Metr Antony of Kiev (Archbp Antony came from Kiev), whom he had known well in Belgrade and whose name he had taken. He was the real ROCOR. Real Russian Orthodox. At last. It had taken me 20 years to get to that point! 20 years of facing illusions, lies, broken promises and corruption. You would think it would have been easy, but nothing of the sort. All hell was against the Russian Orthodox Church, a sure sign of truth.

Q: What happened next?

A: Well, I was at last living as a proper Russian Orthodox. Nearly three years later, in December 1991 I was ordained priest for the new ROCOR parish in Lisbon in Portugal.

Q: What was your attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate?

A: We were all just impatiently waiting for it to become politically free and free of renovationism. That happened officially with the Jubilee Council in Moscow in 2000.

Q: So why didn’t the Church Outside Russia join up with the Patriarchate straightaway in 2000?

A: It is one thing to proclaim the truth at a Council, but another for the decisions of that Council to be implemented. For example, after that I can still remember how at the London Patriarchal Cathedral they refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs and also, incidentally, they refused to sell the books of Fr Seraphim (Rose) or anything traditional. Priests and people coming from Russia were persecuted by the renovationists because they were ‘too’ traditional. We had to wait for the Patriarchate to free itself from such Renovationism.

Also, it must be said, we had to wait until the fanatical elements that had done so much harm to ROCOR since they had started infiltrating the Church in the mid-sixties had left us. When the extremists did finally leave, almost at the same time, there was a huge sigh of relief, because then we could get on with being Orthodox. So it was we had to wait until 2007.

Q: How do you know that people are free of Renovationism?

A: Easy: The yardstick is veneration for the New Martyrs, especially the Imperial Martyrs. The renovationists hate them.

Q: How do you know that people are free of sectarian fanaticism of the sort you describe as having infiltrated ROCOR?

A: Easy: The yardstick is the willingness to concelebrate with other Orthodox Christians.

Q: What is going to happen in the future? At present there are countries like England where there are two parallel jurisdictions of the Russian Church, one dependent on Moscow, the other dependent on the Church Outside Russia?

A: According to the 2007 agreement, where there are two parallel jurisdictions, ROCOR should, in time, absorb the Patriarchal jurisdiction. This will probably take a generation, so that no-one will be under any pressure and everything will take place naturally, organically. However, in reality, already nine years have passed and we can see that in certain areas, like North America and Australasia, ROCOR will indeed clearly take over responsibility for those territories, whereas in other areas the Patriarchate will take over, as in South America, not to mention South-East Asia. The problem comes in the mixed area of Western Europe, including the British Isles and Ireland. In this area, only time will tell, clearly it is the more competent of the two that will take responsibility.

For the moment we shall lead parallel lives. There is in any case so much to do. I could start 12 parishes tomorrow, if I had the money to buy buildings and get candidates for the priesthood ordained. The state of Orthodox infrastructure and the general pastoral situation here are so appalling as to be scandalous; no wonder so many Orthodox lapse or become Roman Catholic or Protestant. All we pastors meet with is indifference. Those in authority should hang their heads in shame. Why is there not a church, our own property in every town over 100,000? This should have been done a generation ago. For example the teeming millions of London only have two small churches!

Colchester is the 50th largest town in England (and incidentally the 500th largest in Western Europe). It has a church that belongs to us. But want about the other 49 larger ones? Only five of them have their own churches: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Birkenhead-Liverpool. That is a scandal. There is no missionary vision at all. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK with a population of two million. And where do the faithful of the Patriarchate have ten liturgies a year on Saturdays (that’s all the priest can manage)? In the Ukrainian Uniat chapel. The next time you hear some naïve Orthodox boasting about his Church, tell him that. Orthodox should be ashamed of themselves.

Q: So is there competition between the two parts of the Russian Church locally?

A: No, not at all. It all depends on who has the priests and the buildings. A concrete example. I was asked to visit a prison in Cambridgeshire. Now, since there is no ROCOR presence in Cambridgeshire (because through incompetence it refused to set anything up there in the 1980s), I gave the prison authorities the references of the Patriarchal priest who lives in Cambridgeshire. On the other hand, when there was question of the Patriarchate setting something up in Norfolk (it had lost what it had had there a few years before, also through incompetence), but knowing that ROCOR had a presence there dating back to 1966, it was referred to me. So here is a territorial division. Now, where there is a double jurisdiction, as in London (the only case), something will have to be sorted out. But, as you can see, that will be as a result of competence. Only time can settle such matters. The more competent part, the more spiritual part of the Russian Church will prevail and form a united jurisdiction.

Q: So there is no rigid territorial division in Western Europe?

A: No, nobody wants to impose such a system. Let everything be done freely, let the people choose. Though, having said that, we can observe a tendency for ROCOR to dominate in the English-speaking world. Canada, the USA and Australasia are clear examples. For example, with Archbishop Mark of ROCOR retiring to Germany and the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland being taken over by Metr Hilarion of New York, we can even talk about a sort of ROCOR Brexit. Metr Hilarion will in fact be Metropolitan of New England and Old England. That is an exceptional event, historically speaking, and may be significant, a turning-point.

So it is possible that in a generation from now ROCOR will only exist in the English-speaking world, but will unite all Russian Orthodox there. ROCOR will become ROCA – the Russian Orthodox Church in the Anglosphere. That is one quite organic and natural possible scenario, a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia for the Anglosphere, the English-speaking world. The Patriarchate will look after everything else in various Metropolias, in Latin America, in Alaska, in Western Europe, in Asia etc.

Q: So Western Europe would completely go to the Patriarchate?

A: That is the way that things are developing at the moment. All the young bishops and all the dynamism in the Russian Church there is Patriarchal. ROCOR only has three ageing bishops and is not opening any new churches.

Q: Is there a difference between ROCOR churches and Patriarchal churches?

A: I think there is a small one, in general. Strangely enough, ROCOR is at one and the same time more Russian, but also more local, more integrated. We have done the translations, we print in English, we speak the local languages and know the local laws, we were born here. At the same time, however, we are utterly faithful to the best of the Tsar’s Russia, never having endured the Soviet period and Renovationism. ‘To quote the saintly Metr Laurus: ‘We are for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy’. We are Imperial priests and people.

Q: What about your own relations with the Russian Church inside Russia?

A: We are very close to all those who are Churched in Russia and they feel close to us. For example, in Moscow one of the closest friends of ROCOR has always been Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), whom some have even suggested will be the next Patriarch. (Bp Tikhon has been in the news recently, since he outraged the British Establishment by inviting students from Eton College to experience Christianity in Russia; not something the atheist Establishment likes). In general, those who especially venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors at once feel at home in ROCOR. I have this nearly every Sunday. People from different parts of Russia, from the Ukraine, from Moldova and elsewhere say that they feel at home, whatever the language, the atmosphere is like at home. In my native town of Colchester, that is a great thing that we have such an oasis of Orthodoxy.

Q: Who are the unChurched in Russia?

A: You find all sorts of people. There are those on the right hand side who mingle superstition with Orthodoxy, for instance, those ritualists who think that holy water is more important than holy communion, who mix in pharisaic sectarianism, puritanism and judgementalism, or, on the other hand, those on the left hand side, who mix in Soviet nationalism, love of the tyrant Stalin, or modernism. But all that is superficial, the majority make their way to the Church sooner or later. You do not waste time on the convert fringes of the Church – otherwise you might end up thinking that that is the Church! A terrible delusion!

Q: Why have you stayed faithful to the Russian Church despite all the difficulties that you have faced over nearly fifty years?

A: Because the Russian Orthodox Church is the Invincible Power. History since 1917 proves it. The gates of hell have not prevailed – and shall not prevail – despite all the enemies and traitors, both external and internal, we have faced. Judas betrayed, but the other apostles triumphed. So tragedy becomes joy. The stone that was rejected is become the headstone of the corner. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

Questions on ROCOR, a future Local Church in Western Europe, the Ukraine and Nominalism

Q: What is the role of ROCOR today?

A: The same as that of all Russian Orthodox – to remain faithful Imperial Christian clergy and laypeople, in other words, to keep faith with the best of the Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, working for its restoration and guarding the international and missionary approach of its saints like St Seraphim of Sarov, St Innocent of Moscow, St John of Kronstadt, St Nicholas of Japan, the Optina Saints, the martyred Tsar Nicholas II and those with him, St John of Riga, St Seraphim of Vyritsa, Metropolitan Pitirim (Oknov) of Saint Petersburg, of the fathers of ROCOR and above all of our three ROCOR saints, for we are the Church of the Three Saints: St John of Shanghai, St Jonah of Hangchow and St Seraphim of Sofia. However, I also firmly believe that there are many more ROCOR saints who will be revealed.

Q: When you say to keep faith with ‘the best’, I presume you mean that there has also been the ‘worst’?

A: Of course, the good and the bad, the wheat and the chaff, always go together. However, although Judas was indeed among the disciples, he notably failed to become an apostle. Such is the fate of all traitors. Who were the worst? Firstly, for example, some ill-informed say that our task is to restore Russia before the Revolution. This is blindness, for that would mean also restoring the worst from before the Revolution when it was precisely that bad that created the Revolution. Thus, if we restored all that went before, without distinction, we would simply have another Revolution. Therefore we must keep faith only with the best from before.

Secondly, and linked with this, there was in ROCOR, that is, after the Revolution, the presence of right-wing politics and racist nationalism inherited from before the Revolution and as a result elements in ROCOR were corrupted and compromised by Western spy services like the CIA, MI5, the DGSE in France, the BND in Germany and the CSIS in Canada. Such political operatives began from the 1960s on to encourage the infiltration of our part of the Russian Church by schismatic old calendarism. Fortunately, this spirit more or less died out after the Cold War, and by 2001 these fringe elements had at last been defeated by the majority whom they could no longer oppress.

Q: You say the good and the bad always go together. How do you resist such bad or secular influences and yet keep the good, the purity of Holy Orthodoxy? How can the wheat grow alongside the chaff which surely hinders it?

A: We carry on despite those influences that are always worldly, making opportunities out of the chaff, living for the long-term and so for the greater good of the Church, not living narrowly for the short-term, continuing to fight for the Faith. For example, the persecution (the word is not too strong) by several well-known bishops and senior clergy that I met both for the veneration of Western saints and for the New Martyrs and Confessors only spurred me on to promote them. If it had not been for such vigorous opposition, perhaps I would not have insisted so much. Now the same people or their heirs are falling over themselves to venerate them. Bad always withers away and dies, providing that we are patient. The chaff is here today, gone tomorrow. Only the good lasts on Christ’s winnowing floor. It is very important to understand that.

Q: If ROCOR had its problem, what was the problem of the Russian Patriarchal Church?

A: Without a doubt, its problem was renovationism, the rather pathetic, dying vestiges of which still survive here and there, both inside and outside Russia. However, apart from among a few elderly and marginal figures or unconverted intellectuals, these Soviet-period vestiges now mainly live on, outside the Russian Church, in schisms. For instance, there are the dying embers of the Paris group, founded by treasonous decadent aristocrats and freemasons from Saint Petersburg, or groups in Finland and Estonia, the latter of which had been infected by the masonic, Parisian YMCA movement before the Second World War.

This ‘democratic’ renovationism, or ‘Kerenskyism’, so obvious in politicized decisions of the 1917-18 Moscow Council (which, thank God, have never been implemented inside Russia), is in fact just protestantization. It is dismissed by such sterling contemporary hierarchs of the Russian Church inside Russia as Metr Onufry of Kiev, Metr Agafangel of Odessa or Metr Benjamin of Vladivostok, who, with so many others, guard the conscience of the Church today.

Q: There has yet again been talk of a ‘British Orthodox Church’. What do you say?

A: I think this theme has been exhausted. First of all, the word ‘British’ can simply not be used in a Church context. It is the local equivalent of ‘Soviet’, in other words, it defines a purely political myth, a fantasy and delusion. We do not talk of a ‘Soviet Church’, so why do we speak of a ‘British Church?’ Soon, there will be no Britain (UK) or EU left, like the already defunct SU (Soviet Union). The State concept of Britain has had its day and we shall at last move on to profounder things. Churches are named after geographical and spiritual realities, not passing political myths invented by political hacks. We should rather speak of the Church of the Isles.

But, in any case, at present, ‘Britain’ is home to only a tiny number of practising Orthodox, with hardly any infrastructure, without monastic life, even sometimes with an insular, provincial, visionless outlook and living in a kind of Anglican phyletism, and phyletism is always spiritual death, as we can see from all the phyletist parishes in this country that have closed or are closing. Phyletism always puts the State Establishment above the Gospel. Indeed, last year one such ex-Sourozhite convert actually wrote me a letter, vigorously accusing me of putting the Gospel above the Establishment and slating me for that! At present we should be taking the broad view of a Metropolia of Western Europe, which can later develop into a Local Church of Western Europe, not a narrow view of a tiny, insular one.

Q: Who could found such a Metropolia?

A: No Local Church will ever found a Metropolia and future new Local Church in Western Europe, except the Russian Church. For example, of the seven groups that exist in the Diaspora, the four Local Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia are all strictly mononational, with no interest in missionary work and founding new Local Churches. As for phyletist Constantinople, it has never freely given anyone autocephaly: the Russians had to wait for nearly 600 years until they seized it themselves and the Bulgarians had to wait for over a millennium and had to create a schism in order to obtain it! As for the Church of Antioch, the Church of four families, as some Antiochians themselves call it, with its all-Levantine episcopate, it even took back the limited autonomy it once gave its small archdiocese in North America. The Antiochians have an admirable though naive zeal, but you need knowledge as well as zeal. Naivety always ends up in disaster, as we have seen.

Q: What, spiritually, is naivety?

A: It is a lack of spiritual experience and so of spiritual maturity. It is always linked with superficiality and a lack of suffering. Real Orthodox live in the arena, are always ready for martyrdom, and are always persecuted and suffer.

Q: If there were one day to be a Local Church in Western Europe, how do you see it?

A: Clearly, without the arrogant mistakes made in the past by the OCA, for example. Firstly, it would use the Orthodox calendar and not impose the divisive Roman Catholic one (though some exceptions might have to be made for some spiritually weak communities) and would avoid modernism of all sorts, insisting for example on confession before prepared communion, modest dress and head coverings for women, correct services and correct liturgical language. All these are not some ‘local customs’, as mocking and despising modernists would have you believe, but are all integral parts of the Tradition.

Secondly, it would have to avoid esoteric Parisian personality cults, like those seen in England and France, of the sort whose first question is, ‘Have you got a doctorate?’ Thirdly, it would have to avoid the patronizing racist mentality of the type to be found in England, that of anti-spiritual, Anglican Establishment phyletism, which automatically excludes the vast masses of people and only ordains Anglican vicars to the priesthood. In a word, it would have to avoid all the falsehood and superficiality of academic, theoretical, convert Orthodoxy. It would have to be the real thing, showing integrity, which is sadly so rare, yet is the only thing that preserves us from the spiritual disease of modernism. Our aim is to become saints, not fantasists.

Q: What is the present situation in the Ukraine?

A: Although I have not been there since May, my impression is that the situation is largely calm on the surface, but underneath is volcanic. Nothing much may happen until the US elections in November, but then the volcano could well erupt. For example, there is already huge dissatisfaction with the ‘thieves and murderers’ (I quote from graffiti seen in Odessa) of the corrupt Poroshenko regime. This at present only controls the area around Kiev, rather like earlier corrupt Fascist US puppet regimes which controlled only Latin American capitals or capitals like Saigon, Manila, Athens, Pretoria, Kabul or Baghdad, but not the countries themselves.

The rest of the Ukraine is controlled by local oligarchs, the new princes. It seems that the component parts of this artificial conglomerate called the Ukraine are falling apart. Poland, Hungary and Romania are looking on, preparing to take back what Stalin stole from them some 75 years ago. The whole of the east and the south of the so-called Ukraine, over half of the country, stolen from Russia by Lenin in 1922, are also yearning to return to Russia and freedom, as the Crimea has already done. Only Little Russia, the region around Kiev, can survive as an independent entity, creating a country similar in size to Belarus to the north.
But I feel that nothing will happen until the Clinton-Trump contest is over. If Clinton the globalist neocon wins, the agony may well get worse and the war could become terrifying, but if Trump the American nationalist and anti-globalist wins, freedom may yet come.

Q: Are you saying that Trump is good?

A: No. I think we all agree that Trump is something of a clown, a primitive nationalist, aggressive, rude and strident like Jean-Marie Le Pen was in France or Nigel Farage was in England, but even if he is not a Christian, he could on balance still actually be the lesser evil. He may actually have a sense of social justice and is surely a social conservative, whereas Clinton calls abortion a blessing, supports the Fascist banksters and as a globalist and Zionist is preparing the coming of Antichrist. Of course, I don’t know for sure, Trump may or may not be the lesser evil: only people can make up their minds about who is the lesser evil.

Q: What is the greatest threat to the Orthodox Church? Politicians like Clinton or Trump?

A: Of course, not. The greatest threat is not others, but ourselves, our own nominalism, which precisely includes blaming others for our own shortcomings. Most Orthodox, 95%, here or elsewhere, are only nominally Orthodox. For example, in this country, how can you take Orthodox seriously when they are even unable to buy or build their own church-buildings? Academic dreamers who call themselves Orthodox rant on about their theories and fantasies, preaching about the ‘Beauty of Orthodoxy’, but when they are asked where their churches are and where authentic liturgical life can be experienced, they can provide nothing, it is all fictitious, in their heads and imaginations. Academics feed only the fantasy, not the heart, because they have no spiritual food to give.

Q: Given this level of nominalism, how can we not fall into despair?

A: Holy men have prophesied that, if we repent, we will be saved by some event in the East. This may mean China and the neocon war now being threatened against China by the hubris-obsessed Obama government in the South China Sea. But it may mean something else. We shall see. Only one thing is certain, and that is that only repentance leads to salvation.

About Ionan Orthodoxy: An Interview with Archbishop George of London

12 May 2041

Q: What is the territory of your Archdiocese?

AG: As you know, our Archdiocese is part of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe under Metropolitan John. This stretches from Ireland to Austria and Iceland to Sicily and includes the Latin, Germanic, Celtic and Basque peoples of Western Europe. Our Archdiocese includes the four now sovereign nations of England, Ireland (which was finally reunited five years ago, if you remember), Scotland and Wales. At present we have four bishops, myself, Bishop Patrick in Dublin, Bishop Andrew in Edinburgh and Bishop David in Cardiff. For our Local Synods we always use our premises on the Isle of Man, the only place from which all our four nations are visible.

Q: Why did you take the name Ionan for your Archdiocese?

AG: Originally, the name ‘Diocese of the Isles’ was suggested for the Archdiocese, but this was considered too vague, since there are isles all over the world. Then the name ‘Isles of the North Atlantic’ was suggested, so forming the acronym I.O.N.A. This conveniently refers to the Ionan Orthodox monasticism of St Columba, which originated in Egypt and came to Ireland via Gaul. Since St Columba’s monastery on Iona spread to England via Lindisfarne and from there Orthodoxy went south, converting much of England, and authentic monasticism had always been the one thing missing here, we felt that this was a good name.

Q: How did ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ come into being?

AG: As you know even into the early 21st century there were two forms of Orthodoxy in Western countries. The first was that which looked back to the ethnic homeland, which meant that in each Western European country there was a multitude of dioceses, called jurisdictions, each living in a sort of divisive ethnic ghetto and using mainly a language other than English. This was all right for first-generation immigrants, but it did not work for second and subsequent generations, who were simply assimilated into the Non-Orthodox milieu. And after three generations, 75 years, abroad, the first generation always died out and so the Church with it. It happened to the Russians in England (arrived by 1920) who had died out by 1995 and to the Greek-Cypriots in England (arrived by 1960) who had died out by 2035.

Q: What was the second form of Orthodoxy in the West?

AG: Seeing the obvious short-sightedness and failure of the above form, there were second and third-generation Russian intellectuals who by reaction took the opposite stance. Their second form of Orthodoxy consisted of merging all Orthodox, whatever their background, into a melting pot. Their common point was the lowest common denominator, that is, the ethnic identity of the (Non-Orthodox) host country. Their policy was then to sell this as the new and substitute ethnic identity of a new Local Church. This second form only developed in full in North America, where immigrants had begun arriving much earlier than in Western Europe, at the end of the nineteenth century, and where people were far more cut off from the roots of Orthodoxy than in Europe. In Europe we did not want to repeat that mistake.

Q: What was that mistake?

AG: It was the attempt to create an ‘American Orthodoxy’. That was a mistake because it put a culture, Non-Orthodox at that, above the Church. This was not a theological movement, but merely a sociological movement of adaptation and conformism. For example, through the inferiority complex of immigrants, most Orthodox churches in the US adopted pews and many of them organs, one institution tried to use a guitar accompaniment to the Divine Liturgy and adapt the theme tune of the cowboy film ‘Shenandoah’ to it. In other places the Divine Liturgy would be stopped at Christmas in order to sing Protestant Christmas carols!

Someone at the time drew a cartoon of an ‘All-American Patriarch’, a clean-shaven man in a clerical collar with a foolish grin on his face and a glass of coca-cola in his hand, like an advert for toothpaste. Of course, this was only a carton, but it did sum up the situation. At that time when the USA still ruled the world, there were actually individuals in the US who arrogantly and blindly imagined that this second form of Orthodoxy there was the only true form of Orthodoxy, that it was at the centre of the world and that it was their duty to colonize the rest of the world with it! In reality, of course, it was a mere provincial backwater experiment, to be allowed to die out quietly because this experiment simply pandered to the weaknesses of the host country. It placed the Church of God below heretical culture. That was blasphemous, which is why it was racked with scandals.

Q: But did the same temptation not occur in Europe, even if it did not have time to develop to the same extent as in the USA?

AG: Yes, of course, it occurred; human nature is the same everywhere, it was just that it took on different forms according to the local heterodox culture. The same thing has happened among unChurched, semi-Orthodox people in Greece, Romania and Russia. It is simply the heresy of phyletism. And make no mistake, it is a heresy because you can lose your soul in it – that is what a heresy is.

For example, in France a whole jurisdiction catered for a kind of ‘philosophical and aesthetic Orthodoxy’, ‘l’Orthodoxie a la francaise’, as one might say. This theory of Orthodoxy, or theorizing about Orthodoxy, did not present the Church as the Christian way of life, but as a complex and highly intellectual philosophy, full of long words and isms, which no-one really understood. Of course, it could have been expressed in very simple language, which everyone knew already. But as long as it sounded theoretically and philosophically fine, ‘cosmique’ as they used to say, all was fine, but of course, it was not fine and that jurisdiction died out, as it was built on sand, not on the Rock of the Faith. This theorizing was about the god of the philosophers in the language of philosophers, not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the language of the fishermen of Galilee. You simply cannot build a Local Church based on Non-Orthodox culture! That is common sense, but you could not say that out loud to those who were taken up by such delusions.

Q: What about in other countries in Europe?

AG: It happened everywhere, not just in France. For example, in Germany the first liturgical book to be translated was the Typikon. In other words, Orthodoxy there was confused with the Non-Orthodox German mindset and produced an Orthodoxy of rules, a stubborn, black and white system, without any flexibility, any understanding of the human component, which is what it is all about. They lost their way by confusing the means (the services) with the ends (the salvation of the soul). For instance, I remember one German priest refusing to give a woman communion because she was dressed in trousers. Well, she was of course wrong, but a few decades ago there was a fashion for women to dress in trousers (fortunately, long since over now). That was bad, but what right did the German priest have to excommunicate that woman? Suppose she had died in the night after she had been refused communion? That sin would have been on the conscience of that priest.

Q: And in England?

AG: It was the same thing again. The national weakness here was not theorizing or creating a book of rules, but it was to adapt Orthodoxy to the British Establishment, to create a compromised ‘Establishment Orthodoxy’, a ‘British Orthodoxy’. This State-controlled and State-worshipping Orthodoxy, that of converts from Anglicanism, was of course just a repeat of the Anglicanism that had long ago been invented by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. There were even two whole but tiny jurisdictions dedicated to this State-approved pietism. It was all salt that had lost its savour. Some such people used the treacherous, half-Norman Edward the Confessor as the mascot of their ‘Establishment Orthodoxy’. Of course, it all came to nothing and has died out now, largely a fantasy of the late-twentieth century and the curious personalities who reigned supreme in the bad old days then. It was very oppressive because, as they were emperors in new clothes, you were not allowed to contradict them!

All these examples show the danger of compromising the Faith with local culture. And all those who did so have now died out, as withered branches. And that is the answer to your question, how did ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ come into being. It came into being as the only living alternative to the two false alternatives – the ghetto or worldly compromise.

Q: So what do you base ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ on?

AG: Simply, we put the Church and the Faith first. If we put the Kingdom of God, Orthodoxy, first, then all will fall into place, including the language that we use in services, which today is for about 90% in English, regardless of the ethnic origin of the parishioners, regardless of how well or how badly they speak another language. We are united by Orthodox Christianity, not by ethnic origins, and we are carried forward by the faithfulness to the Church and Her Tradition of the younger generations, who are all primarily English-speakers.

Q: You now have over 350 parishes in the British Isles and Ireland, all established quite solidly and with their own clergy and premises. Every city and town over 50,000 and the area around it is covered. This is quite unlike even 25 years ago, when the Russian Church, a small minority at that time, had mostly tiny communities with services once a month, borrowed premises and a suffered from a huge shortage of priests to go out and do vital missionary work in the area surrounding their churches. What about the other jurisdictions, which collectively still have over 50 parishes outside the Archdiocese?

AG: We live with them as good neighbours. People are free to join us and free to remain outside us. As you know, the parishes outside our jurisdiction are composed mainly of elderly people who settled here from various countries 50 years ago or more and they use very little English in their services. Virtually all the young people come to us. Time will show which way things will go. Live and let live.

Q: What is the future? Do you think of autocephaly?

AG: The Western European Metropolia, with just over 2,000 parishes now, is united, with six archdioceses, Iona, Scandinavia, Germania, Gallia, Italia and Hispania. True, the Metropolia has autonomy, but at the present time there is no desire at all for autocephaly. True, 2,000 parishes is more than in some other Local Churches, like the 700 parishes of the Hungarian Orthodox Church which recently became autocephalous, but a lot fewer than in others. Take China for example. That is still also an autonomous part of the Russian Church, even though it now has over 25,000 parishes. And the Russian Church Herself did not become autonomous for centuries, only after the Empire had fallen in New Rome. At present, I cannot see any reason to become autocephalous. That situation may of course change, especially in China, but not yet. It all takes time.

Q: Are you saying that autocephaly granted prematurely can be dangerous?

AG: Definitely. And especially in Western Europe.

Q: Why?

AG: Because Western Europe has for over a millennium veered between extremes which we do not want to repeat.

Q: Which extremes?

AG: The first is that of despotic centralism. This was the extreme of the pagan Roman Empire, which Charlemagne foolishly tried to revive and fortunately failed to, but it was indeed revived after 1050, causing Western Europe’s schism from the Church, and that lasted until the anti-Latin nationalist outburst of the Germanic Reformation. After that, despotic centralism was tried again by warmongers like Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, and then by the EU Fourth Reich – and we all know how that ended.

Each time there was a reaction to this despotism – nationalism, and that led to terrible fratricidal wars in Europe, like the so-called ‘Wars of Religion’ in the 16th century, just as centralism created the World Wars. We do not want those extremes, we must follow the golden mean of unity in diversity, which is what we have in Ionan Orthodoxy and in the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe in general. Europe has to be a Confederation of Nations, not a Union, a United States of Europe, but not a series of warring, nationalist states either.

In the same way, the Tsardom of Rus, as it is now called, successfully overcame provincial Ukrainian nationalism a generation ago and reunited huge territories, one sixth of the world. However, it only did this by rejecting the old centralism of the Soviet Union, which had done so much damage to its credibility. Once it had done that, again on the basis of unity in diversity, all of Eastern Europe joined in a free and mutually beneficial economic confederation with it, throwing off the shackles of the old European Union, which was in fact just a repeat of the Soviet Union.

Q: Will you drop the word ‘Russian’ from the name of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe? Most of your faithful are either not Russian or else do not speak it.

AG: In the bad old days of Western nationalism, for example in North America in the Cold War, they detested the word ‘Russian’ and dropped it. Now we are more enlightened and we all understand that ‘Russian’ does not mean nationalism and means uncompromised, unsecularized Orthodoxy. We exist because we have been helped to exist by the Russian Orthodox Church, the only multinational, Imperial Orthodox Church. I think we should keep it. Do you remember the old Roman Catholic Church, as it used to be called? Well, there were hardly any Romans in it!

Q: Why has the Western European Metropolia been so successful?

AG: Without doubt because of the sacrifices made to underpin it in the twentieth century and since. The Church is built on blood, sweat and tears. We should remember with gratitude the prayers and work of those who went before us. For example, I can remember decades ago, how people wanted more English in the services. So, one bishop said yes, do the service in English. What happened? The people who had been clamouring for more English could not even put a decent choir together to sing just the Liturgy! Some of them said that the singing was so bad that they preferred the Liturgy in a foreign language, in which it was properly sung. In other words, you have to make sacrifices in order to achieve anything. We owe a great deal to those who sang properly in English, showing others that the Liturgy in English could be just as beautiful as in Slavonic. Actions speak louder than words.

Yes, mistakes were made in the past, but we learned from those mistakes. Take for example our English translations which stretch back to the turn of the 20th century, nearly 150 years ago, those made in the USA with the blessing of the holy Patriarch Tikhon by an Episcopalian Isabel Hapgood and by Orlov in England. Those were foundation stones. Yes, those translations have been improved and on the way we have seen archaic translations in a Latinate, Victorian style like those of Hapgood or even with 16th century spelling, we have seen those made into street English as well as into soulless, jarring academic English, all sorts, but today we have definitive translations, avoiding all those extremes. It is easy to criticize, but the fact is that without those tireless efforts of the past, however mistaken they sometimes were, we would not be where we are now.

Let us first of all thank our recent fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in Christ who went before us, who built our Church, our parishes and our souls. Our Metropolia, in effect, the Church of the Old and the New Europe, would not exist without them. But let us also thank the saints of the first millennium. Through venerating them, we have earned their prayers and because of their prayers we are here today. We are built not on dead souls, but on spiritually alive souls, whether of the distant past or of the recent past. Always on spiritually alive souls: Remember that.

From Recent Correspondence (Lent 2016)

Q: Why is there so much opposition among the Orthodox faithful to the forthcoming Council in Crete?

A: Because it promises to be merely a politicized meeting of bishops. First of all, how can you say that you are having a Council when you do not know if it is a Council, because you do not know if the Holy Spirit will be present? We must understand that a meeting can only become a Council if the Holy Spirit is present. This is why meetings only become Councils on their reception by the people of God, who recognize the inspiring presence of the Holy Spirit. So far this looks like a meeting of bishops, with the US, the EU and the Vatican in the background, which is not Pan-Orthodox because it does not include all the bishops or, for the moment, even representatives of all the Local Churches. To call a meeting a Council before the event is presumptious and pretentious, even more so when you call it ‘Great and Holy’.

Secondly, how can you have a Council when only a small selected minority of Orthodox bishops have been invited? Thirdly, how can you have a Council when the most important question, the calendar issue, has been removed from the agenda? Fourthly, how can you have a Council when several Local Churches or authoritative voices in Local Churches have been raised in particular against the anti-dogmatic contradictions in the proposed important document on relations with Non-Orthodox? Finally, many have been disturbed by the date of the opening of this meeting: 16/06/16. It contains the triple six of Antichrist. How could the organizers, so blind to any transparency, also be so provocative as to start the meeting on that date, so greatly perturbing the faithful?

Q: You say that the US, the EU and the Vatican are in the background. What exactly do they want?

A: All thisworldly institutions want an aggiornamento of the Church, like that which Roman Catholicism underwent in the 1960s. They want to introduce into the Church secularism, humanism, new calendarism, homosexual marriage, banning fasting and monasticism. In other words, they want to destroy the Church, they want a modernist, spiritually toothless and spineless Church, degutted of ascetic life, spirituality and the sacred, so that they can adapt the Church to their worldly agenda, reducing it to a mere human institution, as they have done elsewhere. And who is their prince, the prince of this world? Satan.

Q: So you are against this meeting?

A: I did not say that. Let us wait and see. This meeting could produce schism, given the arrogant lack of consultation by its organizers with the monasteries, parish clergy and people, with the people of God. For example, why have they not invited a distinguished monastic elder from each Local Church to the meeting to represent the people of God? And, as I said, a meeting, however unpromising, can become a Council. All depends on the Holy Spirit. Man proposes, but God disposes. Sadly, for the moment, all we have seen is bureaucratic men proposing.

Q: You have reported elsewhere the opening of the Russian Cathedral in Paris in the autumn. What are your hopes?

A: Our hopes are that the statement of Patriarch Alexei II thirteen years ago will at last be realized. In other words, we hope that this will be the foundation stone of a Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Western Europe and that that will be the foundation of a future Local Church.

Q: So you want to see in Western Europe a kind of European OCA?

A: Before answering, I should perhaps say that what I want is not really relevant, what is important is what God wants. I will answer only because you have asked.

Not at all, we do not want another OCA. The OCA was a failure firstly because its foundation was politicized, being founded during the Cold War, secondly because it was granted autocephaly unilaterally without consultation with the other far more numerous dioceses of other Local Churches on the same territory, and thirdly because it was founded on compromises of ascetic, liturgical and canonical culture, caused by its protestantization, putting American culture above the Church. This meant that a great many English-speaking Orthodox in the USA, the ones whom it was allegedly designed for, simply ignored it. Personally, if I lived in the USA, I would not belong to the OCA. That is no judgement on the many sincere and pious people who do belong to it or the good work that parts of it do, this is merely a personal statement.

Q: So what do you want to see in Western Europe?

A: What we want to see is what we want to see everywhere, including in North America. That is, quite simply, a Local Church that is fully Orthodox, spiritually pure, politically independent and faithful to the Tradition, but which freely celebrates, whenever pastorally necessary, in the local language and venerates the local saints. What could be simpler? And yet human beings with their compromising political cults or narcissistic personality cults make it all so complicated.

Q: To come back to the OCA, what do you make of the concelebration between Patriarch Bartholomew and Metr Tikhon of the OCA?

A: There are modernist, political dissidents in the OCA who want to become a sub-department of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in some special American Metropolia, just like the Rue Daru group of ex-Russians in Paris, the ex-Sourozhian schismatics in England, or some schismatic Diaspora Ukrainians. It seems to me that a battle is going on between the two factions there, the modernists who want to leave for Constantinople and those with at least some sense of the Tradition who want to stay as a group under the protection of the Russian Church. Personally, I have always thought that a split is inevitable, with all the parishes in Alaska and most in Canada and Pennsylvania around St Tikhon’s, returning to the Russian Church, perhaps within ROCOR, and the others, like those at St Vladimir’s, going over to the Greeks. That would be logical and at last clear up the canonical anomaly once and for all.

Q: The OCA was founded nearly two generations ago. Why has it taken so much longer to begin even thinking about a Local Church in Western Europe?

A: So much longer? We have been thinking about it for thirty years and more! On the other hand, you do not do things prematurely. In my view, the OCA was premature – it should have remained a Metropolia, English-speaking but faithful to Russian Orthodox Tradition, waiting for freedom in Russia, which came 20 years after its independence.

The main problem in Western Europe has been the delay caused by the Paris schism over eighty years ago. The divisive defection of Russophobic aristocrats and modernist intellectuals from the Russian Tradition to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and a self-invented ‘tradition’ meant that the development of an authentically Orthodox Local Church was greatly delayed because the Russian Orthodox presence was so weakened by their disaffection. For instance, although (or because) the Constantinople Parisians are bankrupt, they are still occupying the (smallish) 19th-century Russian Cathedral in Paris, and therefore a new Cathedral and seminary have had to built and equipped at vast expense and with great political complications.

Q: Does the Church Outside Russia, ROCOR, have a role in the construction of this Metropolia in Western Europe?

A: That depends on the leadership of ROCOR, not on mere parish priests like me.

Q: Does that answer mean that in Western Europe at least ROCOR will become dependent on the Church inside Russia?

A: Not necessarily. Everything is still possible. There are parishes in Western Europe dependent on the Church inside Russia and parishes dependent on the Church Outside Russia that are identical in ethos. Some, sadly, are definitely not identical in ethos because of the hangover from the Soviet past despite transfers of controversial clergy out of Europe by Moscow in the last few years. In ROCOR we patiently wait for that vestigial ethos to die out, as it is dying out. Once it has died out altogether, convergence will come.

Q: You mean that ROCOR in Western Europe will merge with the Church inside Russia or that the Church inside Russia in Western Europe will merge with ROCOR?

A: I don’t know. What I do know is that the most active and most missionary, the most spiritually alive, will dominate. Those who are spiritually asleep will be absorbed. If you do not have younger bishops, resident bishops, active bishops, missionary bishops, bishops who are interested in their flocks and local saints, you will die in your self-made ghetto. This is what happened to ROCOR in South America. This is of course true for all Local Churches and their dioceses in the Diaspora. If you do not live, you will die. Surely, that is not too complicated to understand?

For example, today, just in the eastern third of England, we need twelve priests who can speak at least some Russian and some English – if they are bilingual, that would be perfect. I could name the places where they are needed. But where are we going to find them? We have to encourage men to think about this. That requires leadership, time, effort and energy.

Q: How can you describe the ethos of ROCOR, as compared with the ethos of parishes dependent on the Church inside Russia?

A: The emphasis of ROCOR in the last 25 years especially has quite clearly been on the New Martyrs and Confessors, Anti-Sergianism and Anti-Ecumenism. Wherever within the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia there is veneration for the New Martyrs and Confessors (and it is very extensive), wherever there is resistance to the ideas that the Church must swim with the secular tide of the State and resistance to ecumenist compromises (also extensive), there is joy in ROCOR. However, the fact is that some of the foreign parishes in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia, suffered in the past from modernism, ecumenism and liberalism, unlike parishes inside Russia. When the ethos becomes identical, then there will be a complete merger, though, as I say, it is not clear which part of the Church will dominate it. That will depend on the leadership of bishops.

Q: You mentioned local saints in Western Europe. Who at present venerates those local saints?

A: It mostly seems to be immigrants from Eastern Europe, who have the sense of saints and relics. Sadly, despite all our decades of efforts, there are few native Western European Orthodox.

Q: Why? I thought there were many converts?

A: That is a myth. There have never been ‘many’ converts. At most about 2,000-3,000 in the heyday and many of those soon lapsed because they were received into the Church for the wrong reasons or for ideological reasons, with certain clergy trying to build up artificial empires, which of course soon collapsed. Most of their children also lapsed. I doubt if there were ever more than 1,000 serious converts.

However, in the last ten years, I have witnessed a change. Converts started coming in numbers in the 1960s after the collapse of Anglicanism. In other words, most converts were from an Anglican background, often of a public school or wealthy background and most were at that time 30 or 40 years old. Well, that generation, what I call the ‘Kallistos generation’, is literally dying out. Some are still alive, but are in their late sixties or older. The vast majority of these are either in the Antiochian jurisdiction which at last has a new, young, local bishop, or else under the Constantinople Vicariate, which is dependent on an elderly French bishop in France, whom I knew when he was a young priest.

Together, about 600 in all, they together form a sort of Anglican Orthodoxy. For example, as far as I know, the Antiochian clergy are ex-Anglican vicars who have not received training in Orthodoxy and do not know how to do all the services; then the people do not know how to sing; the Vicariate situation is similar. I know one such Antiochian community, where the priest has banned any language other than English! This is racism, though I suspect partly it is because the priest does not understand any language other than English, let alone the Orthodox ethos.

Q: So converts are dying out?

A: Not exactly, rather their nature is changing. There are some new converts, but they do not usually have an Anglican background; after all very few English people nowadays do – even in the mid-19th century, only 50% of English people were ‘Anglican’, that is, they belonged to the Church of England. Although there are few of these new converts, at least they are converting properly and not creating a semi-Orthodoxy, an Anglican-Orthodox club.

Q: So what does that mean for these convert communities?

A: It means that many Vicariate communities number fewer than ten, usually quite elderly people, and form a kind of ex-Anglican clique, centred on the dead Metr Antony Bloom. Where they are more numerous, most of the people are Eastern Europeans. In a similar way, ageing Antiochian groups are being saved from extinction by Eastern Europeans, especially church-deprived Romanians. Most of these groups do not have their own premises and use Anglican churches.

Q: So what is the justification for using English in services, if there are fewer converts?

A: There are now three justifications. Firstly, there are still English people, converts or children and grandchildren of converts with the English husbands of Orthodox women, secondly, there are the English-speaking children of Eastern Europeans and thirdly, in mixed-nationality parishes, English is simply the common language. The future is with the second group, children of Eastern Europeans, because they are now the majority of English-speaking Orthodox.

Q: How are they to be kept in the Church?

A: That is the key question. In ROCOR, for example, the London Cathedral lost virtually everyone from its second generation, let alone from the third and fourth. And that is a typical story for all jurisdictions everywhere. Why? Because they had no identity, apart from an ethnic one, which they naturally disowned. It is vital for Orthodox children born here or going to school here to have an Orthodox identity, to know and appreciate our civilizational values, to know that we are simply Christians. The old generations generally failed to do this, their identity was purely ethnic, not spiritual.

Thus, the children went to school, lost their parents’ language and said, ‘I’m English, this is nothing to do with me, it’s only for old people’. Assimilation. For example, there are six Anglican Cypriot priests in the Diocese of London. Why? Because they did not understand Greek, so they left the Greek Orthodox Church. Of course, we can only give children this identity if parents bring their children to church regularly. Those children have to be instructed in Sunday schools and they have to have activities, which creates in them a sense of belonging to the Church. If parents do not bring up their children in the church, then they will be completely lost.

Q: Why do Protestants so value the Old Testament?

A: The Reformation was largely financed by Jews (despite Luther’s virulent anti-Jewishness) and most Protestants have always been pro-Jewish. Cromwell depended on them almost entirely. (Even today Israel depends entirely on Protestant countries, especially the USA; Catholics have always been more sceptical). Thus, the Protestants even use the Jewish Old Testament in favour of the Christian one! For Orthodox, by far the most important book of the Old Testament is the Psalter, which is why you rarely find Orthodox reading the Old Testament (other than Genesis and Exodus), but rather just the New Testament and the Psalms.

Q: Why is the USA forcing countries, like the Ukraine and also African countries, into accepting homosexual marriage? Is Obama a homosexual?

A: I have no idea what Obama is – except that he supported thuggery by toppling the democratically-elected government of the Ukraine and replacing it with a murderous Fascist junta, which has little control of the country outside Kiev. Then there are the US drones which can murder anyone anywhere. As regards his other personal inclinations, I would not rely on internet rumours.

Now for your main question, which needs a historical answer.

When, in the 11th century, Satan set about destroying Christendom, his first target was to desacralize, that is, secularize, the Church. Satan cannot stand the presence of the sacred, the sacred must be removed from the world because it prevents him from realizing his plans to take total control of the world. This he did by attacking the Church at its weakest point, that is, in the Western provinces, where all had been weakened by the barbarian invasions. In the 11th century the Western Patriarchate was converted to secularism, with what had been the Church becoming a State, becoming secular, changing the Creed, controlling murderous armies, the courts and sponsoring invasions etc. In history this is called papocaesarism.

In other words, the first step to Satanization, was to remove the Altar. The second step was to remove the Throne, that is, to remove the sacral monarchy. This act came later and was done in the 17th century in England, in the 18th century in France and in the 20th century in Russia, although it is true that the Western monarchies had been deformed before then, either by parliamentarianism, or else by absolutism, neither of which conforms to the Orthodox Christian understanding of monarchy, which is the presence of the Lord’s Anointed among the people.

Thus, having removed the spiritual content of the Faith and the Ruler, having desacralized the Faith and the King, there remained the third and final stage, to desacralize or secularize the Christian People and popular culture. This means destroying Christian cultural values (a process that was very rapid in the 20th century), destroying the family – very rapid from the 1960s on after the fall of the Second Vatican Council, when fasting was abolished and so now today we have an obesity crisis). Then they also started destroying the identity of the human person in the unisex movement that since the 1960s has resulted in only two generations in a transgender, transhuman society.

This enslavement is a form of suicide. It is why Russian Orthodox Tsardom, the Christian Empire, had to be destroyed in 1917. With its slogan of Orthodoxy, Sovereignty and the People, the Faith, Tsar and Rus, in English, Altar, Throne, Cottage, in French, Foi, Roi, Loi, its existence was the one thing that made upside down Satanism, with its aim of destroying the Church, the Ruler and the People, impossible.

Q: Can this situation of spiritual enslavement be reversed, or is an imminent end inevitable?

A: Nothing is inevitable because for human beings repentance is always possible. In Russia, the Church is slowly being restored and with Her the ideal of a Spiritual Empire, with a Christian Emperor and People. However, nothing is certain and there are reasons for both profound pessimism and profound optimism. May God’s will be done. On 18 December 1917 the Tsarina Alexandra wrote in her diary: (The Revolution in Russia) ‘is a disease, after which Russia will grow stronger. O Lord, be merciful and save Russia!’ May this hopeful prophecy be true.

Some Autobiographical Notes

I have been asked a number of questions about how, coming from a simple, earthy English background in rural England, I came to be a Russian Orthodox priest of the Church Outside Russia. Making use of some unexpected time this week, I have looked back through some old papers which I had forgotten and can now answer those questions with some dates.

Q: How did you come to the Russian Church?

A: After a countryside childhood strangely filled with interest in faraway Russia, I started teaching myself Russian in October 1968. I was told to do so in a particular spot in Colchester, which I could take you to now, by a voice heard coming, brought as it were by a wind from the east. So I began to read a lot of Russian literature in translation and Russian history. Two years later, in 1970, I had decided that I wanted to be part of the Russian Church and had begun reading as much as I could to find out about it (very little was available at that time). However, it was only after my sixteenth birthday that I managed to visit Russian churches.

Q: Where? In London?

A: No, my family never went to London, which we always looked on as a different planet, ‘the smoke’ as we still called it. The countryside was our home. I won a bursary and at the end of February 1973 I managed to visit a Russian church in England. This was the tiny Russian Patriarchal house chapel in Oxford, where I prayed at vespers on two successive Saturdays. Then in the same year I won another bursary to visit the then Soviet Union; in fact the first church I visited there was St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev. As I entered those churches, I knew that I wanted to be part of their inner life and that this was my destiny, the whole meaning of my life, regardless of all the barriers that would be put in front of me. I felt that I had always been here, that this was in my blood. (Only in 2004 did I discover any possible though very distant explanation in a Carpatho-Russian great-grandmother – my mother’s mother’s mother). At the end of 1973 I also managed to visit the Patriarchal Cathedral in London, of which I had heard. ROCOR then had no existence outside itself, being largely unknown to the outside world, at least in England.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: As soon as I was free to do so at the age of 18, in 1974, I asked to join the Russian Church. Of course, there were two parts then. Firstly, I met two representatives of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), who solemnly informed me that I would not be allowed to join their Church since it was in any case ‘for Russians only’. I also met other, rather fanatical and sectarian individuals from ROCOR, who completely turned me away. I therefore took the only option left to me and joined the Patriarchal Church, presuming that this was identical to the Church that I had seen in Russia and the Ukraine.

However, I very soon found out that the small Oxford Patriarchal parish was dominated by two opposing clans – on the one hand, by haughty Parisian-type modernists, and, on the other hand, by Soviet chauvinist nationalists, for whom the Communist Party could do no ill! I gave myself spiritual life by reading Russian theological books I ordered from Jordanville and elsewhere. Visiting Soviet Russia for a second time in 1976 and spending time there, I saw again how the real Russian Church was different from the Oxford cliques. In 1977 a priest I had met in Russia the year before suggested that I study at the Moscow Theological Academy. I would very much like to have done that, but at the height of the Cold War this was absolutely impossible. That was tragic.

Q: What did you do?

A: I did the next best thing and in 1978 went to live and work in Thessaloniki in Greece for one year. Here, I saw how traditional the ethos could be, quite different from the Church of Constantinople, which I had seen in England, but also, unfortunately, I saw narrow Balkan nationalism and came across the semi-Protestant Zoe and Sotir organizations – closer to Methodism than Orthodoxy! However, I also visited Mt Athos and was especially influenced by Fr Ephraim at Philotheou and the very poor and heroic monks at the Russian St Panteleimon’s Monastery. I remember especially Fr Seraphim, Fr Misail (who wanted me to join the monastery and be the librarian) and the choir director from Odessa. These were real, exemplary Orthodox. It was at this point that I decided that I should go and study at a Russian seminary.

Since I had been told (in fact lied to) that Jordanville only accepted Russians, I took the only option left and went to St Serge in Paris. (The two ‘seminary’ establishments of the OCA held no interest for me since they were both on the Catholic/Protestant calendar and deviated in other ways from the ethos and practice of the Russian Church inside Russia. I knew enough from talking to people who had been to them and from my visits to Russia to understand that they were not right for me. I wanted the real thing).

Q: What happened next?

A: I went to study at St Serge in Paris. There I experienced the battle royal between the two factions in Paris at that time. The first, led by Protopresbyter Alexis Knyazev, a wonderful teacher, was the pro-Russian one that was clear-sighted enough to see that the only future was to rejoin the Russian Church, but on some autonomous basis.

The second group, the Fraternite Orthodoxe, led basically by the Jesuit-educated Count, Fr Boris Bobrinskoy, notorious for having celebrated the liturgy in a Catholic convent with the filioque (!) – so as ‘not to offend our Catholic brethren’, was virtually composed of Uniats. Other members included the fantasist and Athos-hater Olivier Clement and a Georgian priest who spent his time extolling the Second Vatican Council. I soon gave up going to their courses. The modernist and manipulative Fraternite was populated by patronizing aristocrats and fantasist ideologues who preyed on naïve Catholics and converts. Descendants of those who had carried out the Revolution, they absolutely hated Russia and had no intention of ever returning to the sobriety and discipline of the Russian Church. Naturally, I supported the first group which alone was authentic and also realistic.

These two groups depended on the Rue Daru bishop, the weak, elderly but saintly Archbishop George (Tarasov). The Fraternite was clearly waiting for him to die and then seize power, which they only managed to do in full twenty years later. Members of the Fraternite, some soon to become priests, used to hiss, mock and boo Archbishop George publicly. It was awful. I believe that Archbishop George, a former WWI Russian pilot from the Western Front, was a saint. Had he been in good health and lived another fifteen years, he would have returned the group to the Russian Church with the status of an autonomous Metropolia.

Q: Where did you go after St Serge?

A: Having met my wife, who is basically of Anglo-Italian-Romanian origin, and married in Paris, we returned to England. We stayed here for three years, trying to find some sort of balanced spiritual life between the extremes of the pseudo-Patriarchal Church and the Church Outside Russia, with their cliques which were not Churchly at all, quite different from the Church inside Russia, which I had seen in 1972 and 1976, and again at St Panteleimon’s on Mt Athos.

Having discovered the scandalous truths about the extremists dominating both groups in England, we returned disillusioned to France and my wife’s jurisdiction (Rue Daru). Here the new German Archbishop had personally promised us that he was going to steer the Church away from the modernist and ecumenist Fraternite Orthodoxe and back to Russian Orthodox Tradition, but using Western languages whenever necessary. Enthused by this sensible direction and the support of Fr Alexis Knyazev, who was still alive then, I was ordained in Paris in January 1985.

Q: What happened?

A: I had fallen from the frying pan into the fire. Within four months I was asked to become a freemason, which I refused to do, thus signing a kind of spiritual death warrant for myself. Through weakness of character, the new Archbishop had by then taken a suicidal path. He was ordaining freemasons and other members of the Fraternite, while also forbidding the use of local languages, doing exactly the opposite of everything he had promised. He was guaranteeing the death of Rue Daru, whose only hope for survival was in fact to return to one or other of the parts of the Russian Church.

So I surrendered to God’s Will. And in 1987 I was granted the grace of meeting the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a representative of the real ROCOR, just waiting to return to a politically free Russian Church. Coming from Kiev, where I had first been to an Orthodox service, Archbishop Antony showed me the real, multinational ROCOR, which I had read about, but totally failed to meet in London with its nationalism and sectarianism. In July 1988, Rue Daru held a service in honour of the millennium of Orthodoxy in Rus, attended by the modernist Catholic Cardinal of Paris, but from which all Russian bishops had been banned!

It was the last straw and, thanks to God, Archbishop Antony gladly received a group of 17 of us spiritual refugees into ROCOR at the end of that year. This was actually a turning-point for the Rue Daru group, as ever since then the flow of serious Orthodox leaving it has not ceased, giving up the fight to save it. We now realize of course that that fight was impossible and we had undertaken it out of misplaced idealism. The well had been poisoned from the outset. It was also a turning-point for us, from which we have never looked back.

Q: Looking back, what would you do if you had your time again?

A: A purely hypothetical question. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. At the time I had no advice at all, except for very bad advice, and there was no internet. Today, there is no doubt in my mind at all that I should have studied in London and then, in 1977, gone and studied at Jordanville. However, if I had not done what I had done then, how could I know all this now? Only experience teaches.

If I had not done what I did do, I would never have understood the Church of Greece, I would never have met the saintly Archbishop George Tarasov, the heroic Archbishop Antony of Geneva and so many other saintly figures, like the last representatives of the real White Russian movement, Fr Silouan of Athos of the Patriarchate (the disciple of St Silouan), the wonderful Baroness Maria Rehbinder, that exquisite Parisian poetess Lyudmila Sergeevna Brizhatova, the last White officer Vladimir Ivanovich Labunsky, and so many others, the representatives of the real Holy Rus in all jurisdictions of the Russian emigration.

Neither would I ever have understood the tragic renovationist decadence and absurd Soviet nationalism within parts of the Patriarchate outside Russia at that time, the two sides of the suicidal Rue Daru jurisdiction (sadly, today there is largely only one side left) and how ROCOR was nearly enveloped by the marginal extremes of narrow Russian nationalist chauvinism and fanatical old calendarist converts, but saved by the holiness of Metropolitan Laurus and the many with him, who so exactly expressed our values in Holy Rus, Eternal Russia.

There is in even this short, forty-year experience a lifetime of joys and sorrows. I have been privileged to know it all. In that sense I do not regret anything, even though I have met many tragic individuals, seen much waste and many lost opportunities, and seen parts of the Russian Diaspora committing suicide through spiritual impurity. However, I have been even more privileged in that I have also seen the old and artificial disunity fall away and become heartfelt unity and so life in the dynamic present and future. The worst, and it was really bad, is over and the best is now and in the future. Over nearly the last twenty years Providence has allowed me to work freely for the Russian Orthodox Church in missionary work in my own homeland of the three counties of the East of England.

A Story of Failure and a Story of Success

Introduction

For well over fifty years now, and in virtually every country in Western Europe, that is in countries with a millennium of Catholic-Protestant culture, small numbers of Western Europeans have been joining one or other of the local dioceses of the Orthodox Church. In general it can be said that the numbers joining have been higher in the less traditional and more Protestant countries and lower in traditional Catholic countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal. And numbers have been much higher among more uprooted and cosmopolitan city-dwellers than among more traditional country-dwellers. Here there is something to do with spiritual degeneration. Though there is a detailed thesis here, the full story of this Europe-wide movement has yet to be written – probably because it has so far been very marginal.

In some countries, especially small ones like Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Austria and Luxembourg, where also there has been relatively little immigration from ‘Orthodox countries’ until recent years, numbers of native Orthodox are tiny, often a few dozen at most. In other countries, especially larger ones like Germany, France and Great Britain, which have also received more immigrants from ‘Orthodox countries’ in Eastern Europe, numbers of native Orthodox rise into the low thousands. Indeed, the process has been under way for so long that in all these countries we can find adults who are second and third generation Orthodox of purely Western European origin.

Some of the first generation are now elderly and have been members of the Orthodox Church for between forty years and seventy years. Some have been present for between twenty and forty years. Others are newcomers who have entered into communion with the Church more recently, only over the last twenty years. On the surface, it might seem that there are today anything between 10,000 and 20,000 native Orthodox living in Western Europe. (Here we exclude those who have already passed on). However, such a high figure is very misleading because in order to understand real numbers we have to look at the motivations of those who have joined the Orthodox Church in Western Europe, sociological and not spiritual motivations which sadly have resulted in a majority of those received and their descendants lapsing from the Faith.

Marriage

Firstly, there are those who have had to join the Orthodox Church because they have married an Orthodox. It is true that some of these individuals have come to appreciate the Church and play a part in parish life. In other words, they have not only joined the Orthodox Church, they have actually become Orthodox and spontaneously and naturally have Orthodox values, think in an Orthodox way and live an Orthodox life. However, for the majority that is not the case. Their membership of the Church is purely nominal, often because the membership of the Church of the Orthodox whom they have married is also nominal.

Without an example of Church life, spouses will not take up Church life. Moreover, if their spouses belong to parishes where the whole service is in an inaccessible foreign language (often also largely inaccessible to the second-generation Orthodox spouse), clearly the possibility of their interest is greatly lessened. We doubt if there are more than a few hundred Western Europeans who, though they have joined the Orthodox Church because they have married Orthodox, have actually become Orthodox. The rest, the vast majority, have to all intents and purposes lapsed (though arguably it could be said they never lapsed because they were never part of the Church anyway).

Converts

Secondly, there are those who previously practised Catholicism or Protestantism (including its Anglican variant). They have often been disillusioned by the denomination in which they have grown up and left it for Orthodoxy. These people really are converts. Here we have to look very closely at motivation. Some have left their original denomination disgruntled and angry and then joined the Orthodox Church for negative, purely psychological, occasionally psychopathic, reasons. These people never become Orthodox, for they spend their time looking backwards, either nostalgically and investing themselves heavily in ecumenism and the past, or else in anger, raging against ecumenism and their original denomination. Neither group ever looks forward to the Church and living in Her, but lives off the baggage of the past which they attempt to impose on the Church by trying to ‘reform’ Her! I have met so many like this, who, even after twenty, forty and sixty years, have still never become Orthodox. These are the eternal converts who love being converts and, in one way or another, always lapse from the mainstream, or rather have never been part of the mainstream, blinded by psychological deformations in egomania, producing psychobabble. Needless to say, they do not hand on Orthodoxy to their descendants because they have no Orthodoxy to hand on.

On the other hand, there are those who, with an open mind and without psychological hang-ups or ‘baggage’, have naturally evolved through repentance from some sort of Protestantism or Catholicism (it is much the same thing) and become Orthodox, ever deepening their Faith. They realize that Orthodoxy is simply Christianity and that, before, they were simply not Christians in the fullness of the word, they both had too much of something (phariseeism, moralism, guilt etc) or lacked something (sacramental life, spiritual understanding, simplicity etc). They understand that previously they had been conditioned by deformations of Christianity and that now, at last, they understand what the Church is. Although this group are a minority amongst converts, they are the positive ones because they not only join the Church, but with time actually become Orthodox, ridding themselves of the deformed cultural reflexes of their past. There may be 2-3,000 such Orthodox Western Europeans.

Fantasy

Thirdly, there have been those who have been brought into the Church under false pretences by fantasist proselytists, false ‘elders’, people who love giving themselves titles (‘spiritual fathers’) and exude the desire to be admired. For example we well remember one bishop who, desperate to fill his tiny parish, which most serious Orthodox did not attend once they had discovered what it was about, probably brought in 2,000 people over his lifetime; they mainly lapsed very swiftly. His technique was to attract people, mainly wealthy people from the upper-class Establishment, through his undoubted personal charm and, under the influence of almost semi-hypnosis, he would receive them within a few days or weeks at most. Few lasted more than six months; some only lasted days. I have come across many of his victims (I use the word with reason). Some have never been back to Church since the day he received them; many have returned to various cliques of Anglicanism, where he found them, or invented their own. Since he died, all his fantasies have come to grief and a new generation is growing up, never having heard of him.

Another priest, an ex-Anglican vicar, has been desperate to ‘recruit’ to his tiny community. His technique, sadly common among many of his background who seem not to have any time for the vast majority of Non-Anglican English people, is to receive anyone who shows the slightest interest in the Church. The result is an incredibly high turnover. His tiny flock changes almost completely every six months. A high lapse rate is certain. Outside England old calendarists and others of a sectarian mentality in France (both perennialist Kovalevskians and old calendarists), Italy and Portugal, without any base of faithful, have recruited heavily among traditional Catholics. In Portugal these old calendarists used to include Catholic saints in their calendar! Again turnover, that is, the lapse rate, has been very high. Why remain in a group that is a sect and is not in communion with the Orthodox Church? There have been many pastoral disasters in such groups. Stability is definitely not a word that belongs to the vocabulary of such sectarians, for, once more, they too have built on sand. Nevertheless, there are some issued from false missionaries who have seen through the charlatans and moved on to stable Church life elsewhere.

Descendants

Fourthly, there are those who have so far lost any identity inherited from their parents that, although they are technically not Western Europeans, they are so Westernized that they might as well be. These are the descendants of immigrants from ‘Orthodox countries’., children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren right up to the sixth generation and more. Sadly, it has to be said that, once children lose the Orthodox culture of their parents (often fairly minimal anyway), the assimilation rate is very high. Conditioned by the acid bath of Western schools with their intense secularist propaganda, not to mention television and social media, Orthodox cultural reflexes tend to be quickly worn down, especially as the generations pass. We know of such Orthodox who still occasionally go to church, but they will not attend if it is not on the new or Western calendar and if they cannot sit down at services and they will not take communion if they have to have confess first. Clearly, nothing can be built on such semi-Orthodox.

On the other hand, there are Orthodox of later generations, perhaps especially of the third generation, who have lost the conformist and integrationist inferiority complex and reflexes of the second (‘Schmemannite’) generation and want to return to and understand their roots as well as the first millennium roots of the countries where they live. Obviously their knowledge of their ancestors’ language may be negligible, but this is not a problem in itself. If they have zeal for the Faith and want to go to the roots of the Faith, then such Orthodox, of any generation, including those issued from mixed marriages, can bring a great deal to Church life. There are several thousand such Orthodox in Western Europe and they, together with the first generation of immigrants, are the backbone of the Church, even though they are not, even in part, native Western Europeans.

Conclusion

There are Orthodox in the above categories, admittedly in some more than others, who play a role in Church life in Western Europe, and not just an academic or titular one, but a real one. Whether people have come to the Church of God by marriage and avoided the temptation of nominalism, whether they are converts from one of the heterodox denominations and avoided the temptation of living with the baggage of the past and overcome psychology in favour of theology, whether they have been brought into the Church by false missionaries but seen through them to the real Church, whether they are of ‘Orthodox’ origin, but have resisted the temptations of assimilation and minimalism, there are in all these groups several thousand genuine Western European Orthodox. To them we can add others, also repentant.

For we have not yet mentioned those who simply come to the Church because the Church is their spiritual home. We are not converts, we do not have any baggage with us, we simply want to join the Church in order to be what in our souls we always have been: Orthodox. We enter the Church and are at once at home in Her and cannot live and have never been able to live without Her. We cannot be anything other than Orthodox. We have no desire to ‘reform’ the Church, but are happy with Her as She is. We are the people who simply want spiritual food and have no cultural hang-ups and no heterodox culture with which to create some sort of Halfodoxy, half-Protestant/half-Orthodox’, ‘Anglo-Catholicism with icons’, the Tridentine Mass with icons etc. I can remember how shocked I was over 40 years ago when I was asked by a Greek priest: ‘Who brought you to the Church?’, obviously expecting the name of a bishop or priest in answer. When I answered truthfully: ‘God’, he seemed shocked. I thought how utterly deformed his expectation had been. He could only see an Orthodoxy dependent on some personality cult.

The fact is, whatever our path to the Church anywhere, Church life can only be built on the Rock of Tradition, not on the sand of the compromises of negative traits, of nominalism, pathology, fantasy or minimalism. Though you may be very zealous, you cannot be missionaries if you have nothing of spiritual value to give, your zeal is purely psychological, not of the heart, not repentant. The Church lives by the Holy Spirit, not by fallen human psychology and ideology. Sadly, we have seen many cases where individuals have tried to build the Church in Western Europe on the sand of compromise, without repentance, without leaving false cultural values behind them. All such attempts, and we have seen a great many of them, have ended in failure, they are fantasy swept away by reality, as a result there are well over ten thousand native Western Europeans who have lapsed from a corrupted form of Orthodoxy. Such have been and will continue to be washed away, like so much sand when the tide comes in. That is failure. On the other hand, there are those who are building the real and future Church in Western Europe on the Rock of the fullness of the Orthodox Tradition that no tide can ever wash away. That is success.